Proponents often use ashwagandha to reduce stress and anxiety and manage several chronic conditions. However, research into the efficacy of ashwagandha for these purposes is inconclusive.

For hundreds of years, people have used the roots and orange-red fruit of ashwagandha for medicinal purposes. The herb is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. The name “ashwagandha” describes the smell of its root, meaning “like a horse.” By definition, ashwa means horse.

Practitioners use this herb as a general tonic to boost energy and reduce stress and anxiety. Some also claim that the herb may be beneficial for certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and anxiety. However, more research is necessary to confirm the potential health benefits of this herb.

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Ashwagandha is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine. This is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and one of India’s healthcare systems.

In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is considered a Rasayana. This means that it helps maintain youth, both mentally and physically.

There is some evidence to suggest that the herb can have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation underpins many health conditions, and reducing inflammation can protect the body against a variety of conditions.

For example, proponents may use ashwagandha to help treat the following:

Different treatments make use of different parts of the plant, including the leaves, seeds, and fruit. However, at present, there is limited evidence supporting its potential benefits in humans.

Scientific studies have suggested that ashwagandha might be beneficial for a number of conditions.

That said, researchers do not know a lot about how the herb reacts within the human body. Most studies so far have had small sample sizes and have used a variety of ashwagandha preparations. As such, further research into the possible benefits of ashwagandha is still necessary.

There is some evidence to support the use of ashwagandha for the following:

Stress and anxiety

Ashwagandha may have a calming effect on anxiety symptoms. In a 2019 study, researchers found that taking a daily dose of 240 milligrams (mg) of ashwagandha significantly reduced people’s stress levels when compared with a placebo. This included reduced levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

In another 2019 study, taking 250 mg or 600 mg of ashwagandha per day resulted in lower self-reported stress levels, as well as lower cortisol levels.

Although this research is promising, scientists need to collect much more data before recommending the herb to treat anxiety.

Athletic performance

A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis indicates that ashwagandha could help to improve physical performance. In particular, ashwagandha supplementation could help enhance strength, fitness, and recovery in healthy males and females.

The review suggests that consuming 300–500 mg twice per day, in the morning and before sleep, may be beneficial for individuals undergoing strenuous resistance or endurance training.

Heart health

Some people may use ashwagandha to boost their heart health, including:

However, there is little research in humans to support these benefits. A 2023 review highlights multiple rat studies suggesting that ashwagandha may possess cardioprotective properties.

Alzheimer’s treatment

A 2020 review suggests that ashwagandha may possess neuroprotective properties and could protect against many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s disease.

Similarly, a 2021 review indicates that ashwagandha and other medicinal herbs could help prevent cognitive decline and restore normal cognitive function. However, it adds that further investigation is still necessary.


Many people living with cancer may experience stress, anxiety, and fatigue. For those seeking non-pharmaceutical options for relief from these symptoms, ashwagandha may provide a suitable option.

A 2023 review suggests that ashwagandha may possess anti-cancer properties. However, there is currently not enough research to supports its use to prevent or treat cancer.

The dosage of ashwagandha and the way people use it depends on the condition they are hoping to treat. There is no standard dosage based on modern clinical trials.

Different studies have used different dosages. Some research suggests that taking 250–600 mg per day can reduce stress. Other studies have used much higher dosages.

Capsule dosages often contain between 250–1,500 mg of ashwagandha. The herb comes in the form of a capsule, powder, and liquid extract.

In some cases, taking high doses can cause unpleasant side effects. It is best to speak with a healthcare professional about safety and dosage before taking any new herbal supplements, including ashwagandha.

People can usually tolerate ashwagandha in small-to-medium doses. However, there have not been enough long-term studies to fully examine the possible side effects.

Taking large amounts of ashwagandha can lead to digestive upset, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This may be due to irritation of the intestinal mucosa.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), ashwagandha may be safe to take in the short term. There is not currently enough evidence surrounding its long-term safety.

Additionally, the NCCIH note that some Ayurvedic products may contain lead, mercury, and arsenic in levels above what experts consider to be acceptable for human daily intake.

Another potential concern for Ayurvedic herbs is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate the manufacturers. This means that they are not held to the same standards as pharmaceutical companies and food producers. As such, they may contain contaminants such as heavy metals, or they may not contain the actual herb at all. People should conduct some research on the manufacturer before purchasing any product.

Furthermore, evidence advises that ashwagandha may not be suitable for the following individuals:

  • pregnant people
  • those about to have surgery
  • those with thyroid or autoimmune disorders
  • those with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer
  • those taking certain medications, such as immunosuppressants, anticonvulsants, thyroid hormone drugs, or medications for diabetes and hypertension

Here are some frequently asked questions about ashwagandha.

Is it okay to take ashwagandha daily?

Evidence suggests it is tolerable to take ashwagandha over a short-term period. However, it is important to take a suitable dose. As most dosages of ashwagandha capsules contain between 250 mg and 1,500 mg of ashwagandha, it is not advisable to exceed these dosages.

Is ashwagandha good for anxiety?

While more research is necessary, evidence suggests that ashwagandha may help to reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Do I take ashwagandha in the morning or at night?

There is no conclusive evidence whether it is better to take ashwagandha in the morning or at night. Some evidence suggests that people may benefit by splitting the daily dose between the morning and night.

Can ashwagandha cause a false positive drug test?

The Department of Defense Dietary Supplement Resource notes that ashwagandha should not produce a positive result on a routine military drug screening test.

How quickly does ashwagandha work for anxiety?

Some research suggests that taking ashwagandha for 30 days can help reduce anxiety. However, how long it takes to reduce anxiety and how effective it is can differ for each individual.

What does ashwagandha do for you?

Possible benefits of ashwagandha include reducing stress and anxiety, improving athletic performance, boosting heart health, and helping protect against conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Why is ashwagandha not FDA-approved?

Ashwagandha is an herbal product. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve herbal products and other dietary supplements.

Ashwagandha is a herbal treatment in Ayurvedic medicine. Some studies suggest that ashwagandha could have a range of health benefits. These could include reducing stress and anxiety, improving athletic performance, and possessing neuroprotective properties.

However, many of the studies so far have been small, conducted in animals, or had flaws in their design. For this reason, researchers cannot say with certainty that it is an effective treatment. More work is necessary.

If a person chooses to use this herb as part of a treatment plan, they should be sure to discuss it with their doctor first. Evidence suggests that ashwagandha is safe to use in the short-term. However, pregnant people and those with preexisting health conditions should talk to their doctor before using ashwagandha.